The simmering distrust

Furthermore, the relationship between Donnie from Queens and the intelligence professionals is tanking. That could be a problem.

The simmering distrust between Donald Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies escalated into open antagonism Saturday after the president-elect mocked a CIA report that Russian operatives had intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help him win.

The growing tensions set up a potential showdown between Trump and the nation’s top intelligence officials during what some of those officials describe as the most complex threat environment in decades.

Trump’s reaction will probably deepen an existing rift between Trump and the agencies and raised questions about how the government’s 16 spying agencies will function in his administration on matters such as counterterrorism and cyberwarfare. On Friday, members of Trump’s transition team dismissed the CIA’s assessments about Iraq’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

“Given his proclivity for revenge combined with his notorious thin skin, this threatens to result in a lasting relationship of distrust and ill will between the president and the intelligence community,” said Paul Pillar, former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

Oh well. It’s not as if we need accurate intelligence on who is stockpiling what kinds of weapons.

U.S. intelligence officials described mounting concern and confusion about how to proceed in an administration so openly hostile to their function and role. “I don’t know what the end game is here,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said. “After Jan. 20,” the official said, referring to Inauguration Day, “we’re in uncharted territory.”

Pillar added: “Everything Trump has indicated with regard to his character and tendencies for vindictiveness might be worse” than former president Richard Nixon, who also had a dysfunctional relationship with the intelligence community.

He’s almost certain to be worse. He has Nixon’s flaws along with a lot of flaws of his own. He’s more nakedly aggressive, more entitled, more conceited, more used to getting his own way and trampling on everyone else – more ignorant, more stupid, more unwilling to learn anything.

Intelligence agencies are tracking Russia’s military interventions in Syria and Ukraine, Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing and China’s maritime challenges in Asia and theft of trade secrets. The CIA is operating a covert program to arm and train moderate rebels in Syria to overcome the brutal rule of President Bashar al-Assad, even as Trump has praised Russia’s approach to backing Assad.

Since his electoral triumph last month, Trump has attended only a limited number of intelligence briefings, and he appointed as his national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who was forced out of his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by Obama administration officials.

Mavericks! They’re all a buncha mavericks, fixing the intelligence agencies by getting all mavericky up in there.

Or, to put it another way, this isn’t going to go well.

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